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9 Sept 2004 : Column 1352W—continued

Security Industry Authority

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how his Department measures the performance of the Security Industry Authority; [187344]

(2) what has been the budget of the Security Industry Authority in each year since 2001; [187345]

(3) when the Security Industry Authority proposes to implement the regulation of wheel clampers. [187350]

Ms Blears: The Security Industry Authority (SIA) was established as a non-departmental public body on April 2003. Prior to this date the implementation unit formed part of the Home Office.

The SIA budget for 2003–04 was £15.5 million. The expenditure incurred totalled £12.9 million.

Full information is available in the SIA Annual Report and Accounts which is available in the House.

The SIA expenditure budget for 2004–05 is £26 million.

The Department has worked closely with the SIA throughout its development and a member of the sponsor department attends Board meetings. Annually the Minister agrees targets for the SIA, which are appropriate to the development stage reached. The targets for 2003–04 are included in their recently published Annual Report and Accounts together with a record of their significant achievements. The report and accounts are available from HMSO or can be viewed on the SIA website.

The overall SIA Aims are set out in their agreed managerial and financial framework:

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Witness Protection

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the average number of police officers deployed on witness protection schemes was in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by police force; [184959]

(2) what police resources have been allocated to witness protection schemes in each of the last five years, broken down by police force. [184960]

Caroline Flint: This information is not currently available. The Home Office, in conjunction with the Scottish Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, has appointed an independent consultant to carry out an assessment of witness protection arrangements nationally. The assessment is covering all cases where witness protection is afforded by UK law enforcement agencies including the police. It will provide us with valuable information about the numbers and circumstances in which witness protection is provided and the amount of police time allocated to it.

The assessment commenced on 2 January; it was announced in the White Paper "One Step Ahead—a 21st century strategy to defeat organised crime", which I published on 29 March. The assessment is due to be completed over the summer, and a final report will be available in the autumn.

However, even after completion of this assessment, we are not intending to make available publicly any of this information below national level. Such information broken down by individual police forces is obviously operationally sensitive and could compromise the integrity of witness protection programmes and the officers who work on them.


Designated Accommodation

Bob Spink: To ask the Prime Minister how many rooms are set aside for (a) the use of smokers, (b) worship, broken down by religion and (c) nursing mothers and pregnant women in each building and set of offices for which his office is responsible. [187321]

The Prime Minister: For these purposes, my office is part of the Cabinet Office. My office has one smoking room. Rooms for worship, nursing mothers and pregnant women are shared with the Cabinet Office.


Criminal Justice Board

21. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on the work of the Criminal Justice Board. [187722]

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The Solicitor-General: I have discussions with the Home Secretary on the work of the Criminal Justice Board at the Criminal Justice Board and also at the routine meetings of all criminal justice Ministers.

Hate Crimes

22. Mr. Dismore: To ask the Solicitor-General what her policy is towards the prosecution of (a) anti-Semitic and (b) Islamophobic hate crimes. [187723]

The Solicitor-General: The policy of prosecution of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic crime is set out in the CPS' policy document of July 2003,

In all cases there are two tests: whether there is sufficient evidence for the court to convict; and whether a prosecution is in the public interest. It will usually be in the public interest to prosecute cases of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic crime.

Animal Rights Extremism

23. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the role of the Crown Prosecution Service in tackling animal rights extremism. [187724]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service takes very seriously the prosecution of animal rights extremists who commit criminal offences.

There is now a co-ordinator for this work in each CPS area.

The Attorney-General is a member of the inter-ministerial group tackling animal rights extremism and chairs the forum of the agencies who are engaged in dealing with this problem.

Case Progress (Information)

24. Julie Morgan: To ask the Solicitor-General what steps she is taking to keep victims informed of the progress of their cases. [187725]

The Solicitor-General: The Government are working with the police, prosecutors and courts, as well as voluntary and community organisations to take steps to ensure that victims will be confident to report offences and give evidence in court where necessary. A central part of that effort is ensuring victims are kept informed at all stages of the case.

Pre-charge Investigations

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the progress of the pilot schemes to involve the Crown Prosecution Service in the pre-charge investigation process; and whether time savings have been identified from such pilot schemes. [175512]

The Solicitor-General: Following the charging pilots in 2002–3, and the legislative changes in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Crown Prosecution Service, in partnership with the police, arc implementing the charging arrangements.
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Shadow Charging arrangements have been implemented in all police force areas in England and Wales, and crown prosecutors now provide charging advice at 248 of the 373 operational units during normal office hours.

A Commencement Order (under the Criminal Justice Act 2003) was issued on the 29 January 2004, which allows the Director of Public Prosecutions to apply Statutory Charging arrangements. The statutory scheme was first applied at Longsight in Greater Manchester. The scheme has since been rolled out across West Yorkshire, Kent, South Yorkshire, Cleveland, Lancashire, Northumbria, Avon & Somerset, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Greater Manchester.

It is expected that the benefits will be a reduction in the rate of discontinuances to 69 per cent. guilty plea rate to increase by 30 per cent. and the conviction rate to increase by 15 per cent.

Early consultation between police officers and crown prosecutors will assist in getting the charge right first time, and reducing remedial work often required to bring cases up to appropriate quality standards. Weeding out weak prosecutions at an early stage will save further effort for both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. In addition, an increase in guilty pleas will result in fewer trials, with benefits for not only the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, but also the courts. These improvements will result in an estimated 3.2 per cent. efficiency gain on contested cases going through the criminal justice system.

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